"Bernard Haitink: The Symphony Edition" is one of two recent box sets from Decca, marking Haitink's eighty-fifth birthday in 2014. Together with Haitink: The Philips Years this set offers a broad, tantalizing overview of the great Dutch conductor's compelling artistry, and makes a near-perfect introduction to one of the truly magnificent recorded legacies of our time. Haitink will be 85 on 4 March 2014, and this set presents his six complete symphonic cycles by cornerstone classical composers: Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner, Mahler, Schumann and Tchaikovsky.
This recording gives a fascinating portrait of the approach to Bruckner’s music developed by Bernard Haitink and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra over their many years of working together.
The Piano Concerto No. 2 is also Beethoven in classical mode, using an orchestra that would have suited a Mozart piano concerto equally well. What marks it out from other classical works of the time are the solo outbursts in each of the first two movements. In the first, a contrapuntal cadenza with exciting modulations takes us into new and more individual territory, in which the keyboard becomes absolutely the composers focus; in the second we are treated to some powerful, improvisatory solos. The last movement, a rondo with a highly rhythmic main theme in 6/8, manages to introduce a descending chromatic progression towards the end and closes with the piano oscillating rapidly between major and minor chords (a light hearted conclusion to the piece, but one which taxes every pianist).
Vivacious, young soprano Marie McLaughlin is magnificent as the ill-fated courtesan Violetta in this passionate production of Giuseppe Verdi's timeless classic, directed by the internationally renowned Sir Peter Hall and conducted by one of music's all-time greats, Bernard Haitink. Walter MacNeil brings to striking life the role of Violetta's lover, Alfredo, and Brent Ellis shines as Alfredo's father, Germont. Set in 19th century Paris, this moving story of doomed love and its dramatic deathbed reconciliation remains one of Verdi's most popular operas.
Bernard Haitink conducts the Berlin Philharmonic in this extraordinary performance of Mahler's third symphony. Mezzo-soprano Florence Quivar's heartbreaking accompaniment adds to the sumptuousness of this remarkable concert event. The camera movements are as sensitive to the rhythms as the performers, making this a visual and aural treat.
This is a recording for the ages and one that deserves all of the attention focused on it by very competent engineers. Highly recommended.
Composer: Gustav Mahler
Performer: Elly Ameling, Aafje Heynis, Maureen Forrester, Ileana Cotrubas, Hermann Prey, Marianne Dieleman, Birgit Finnilä, Heather Harper, Hanneke van Bork, William Cochran, Hans Sotin
Conductor: Bernard Haitink
Orchestra/Ensemble: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Chorus, St. Willibrod Boy's Choir, Netherlands Radio Women's Chorus, Stern des Volks, Amsterdam Toonkunst Chorus, Collegium Musicum Amstelodamense, St. Pius X Children's Choir, St. Willibrod Children's Chorus